tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC September 18, 2012 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
leader. he admitted it, too. >> voter i.d., which is going to allow governor romney to win the state of pennsylvania, done. >> whatever the cause, we must stand up for the right for everyone to vote. no impediments, no diversions, no tricks, one person, one vote. that's what the country's about. that's what we must fight for. thanks for watching. i'm al sharpton. "hardball" starts right now. caught. let's play "hardball." ♪ good evening. i'm chris matthews up in new york. let me start tonight with, if i were a rich man. ♪ dumb. it's one thing to be rich and have the majority of voters convinced you're out to help the rich.
is there anything dumber to be caught pandering to your fellow rich? hey, buddy, give me $50,000 i'll give y dinner and tell you what i really think. what does mitt romney really think about that 47% out there, the ones he'll never catch at a party like this? he called them a bunch of free loaders who want breakfast in bed and who want people at the 50k dinners to foot the bill. tonight the morning after, and yes, we've got more tapes of that infamous dinner to remember. that tony get together where the republican nominee for president of the united states shared his deepest beliefs about the two kinds of people in this country, those who give, like him, and those who take and loaf and vote for obama. joining me now is david corn with mother jones the author of "showdown," out in paper back, and "new york times" jonathan heilemann. we have new tape to show you from that fund-raiser including what he said about the israeli/palestinian conflict. before we get to that, here is that shocking tape from romney talking about the 47% of americans who he says are
definitely not voting for -- are definitely voting for obama, not for him. he was answering a question from a donor apparently. the tape was first posted by the great mother jones magazine. let's watch. >> 47% of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. all right. there are 47% who are with him who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they're entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. that that's an entitlement and the government should give it to them. and they will vote for this president no matter what. and the president starts off with 48, 49, he starts off with a huge number. these are people who pay no income tax. 47% of americans pay no income tax. so our message of low taxes doesn't connect. he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. that's what they celebrate every four years, and so my job is not to worry about those people. i'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for
lives. i have to convince the 5% to 10% in the center that are independents. >> you know, david, congratulations on getting this out to the public because we often think, what does a politician really believe? and maybe we don't hear it here, but pretty close. behind closed doors, there he is pandering to a bunch of rich people basically referring to the nonrich, to the people in the bottom 50% of the country, the 47% to be precise, as bums, loafers, shirkers, the people who really don't carry their load but expect the rich to give them breakfast in bed effectively. i mean, i think it's a telling statement. and my only question to you, since you unearthed this, is he saying this is what i believe or is this a high pander to the rich or both? >> well, i don't see any reason why it can't be both. if you watch the tape as we just did, you know, he looks very convincing, at least to me. he said last night in response to the tape that he was speaking off the cuff. usually when you speak off the cuff, you say what's in your heart, what you really mean, it
means not being scripted. so this didn't sound like a scripted remark to pander to people who had paid $50,000 a plate to see him. there are a lot of ways to talk about this issue of whether we're going to have a government centered society, whether entitlements go too far and encourage people not to work. there are policy issues and the way to describe them, but he was sort of brazen in how sweeping his remarks were that these people just don't believe in personal responsibility, that the 47% of americans who voted for barack obama don't have any sense of working for themselves, and that seemed to me to be the tell. he didn't have to go this far to pander to these people, but it was like you and i, we're the strivers, we make our own success, and we're up against, you know, a population full of parasitic moochers, and that's what this campaign is going to be about. >> it reminded me -- >> we need 5% to 10% in order to win. >> it's like the book "the fountain head." that's the whole idea. there were the looters, those people who didn't do anything. john heilemann, this question about -- he really did sound
like a tory more than a republican. a real elitist. like these bums, these workers, the stories you would hear about the new york yacht club, i love to see them work, that kind of stuff. >> there are tories, margaret thatcher, the shopkeeper's daughter, you know, who wanted to try to lift the poor up. i think there's the analysis he's doing of society of the economy, but the thing to me that's more troubling is this notion that not only is he analyzing and saying this is what this category of people are like, but he's saying i can't help them, i can't do anything for them, there's no reason for me to try to talk to them, right? if you're going to be -- this is this -- the obama campaign has made this point, but if you're going to be president of the united states, you're the president of all the people, not just the ones who vote for you, not just the ones who are of your class, not just the ones you identify with. his attitude was there's nothing i can do about those people so my campaign will just ignore them because of the way they are.
i think that's the most troubling thing about it, and, you know, the right has pointed out all day long and you mentioned in the lead in to this that this is like president obama with the comment that he made in 2008 at the fund-raiser in san francisco about people -- bitter people clinging to their guns and religion. the huge difference was when president obama said that, it was also condescending and it was also contemptuous and it cost him in the pennsylvania primary, in the west virginia primary, in a lot of primaries with white working class voters but when he made the comment, if you look at the whole quote, he says this is the way these people are, but that doesn't mean i'm not going to go campaign for their votes. he says there's some people like that who are going to be less amenable to my appeal than they would otherwise be, but i got to still go in there and fight for the votes, stand in front of them and ask them for their vote. that's exactly the opposite of what romney was saying. romney is saying these people aren't going to like me so i'm going to forget about them. >> the weekly standard, a conservative, wrote romney's comments were stupid and
air gaptd arrogant. in new york times, david brooks, a really smart guy wrote, as a description of america today, romney's comments is a country club fantasy. it's what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. it reinforces every negative view people have about romney. now, the headline of that column was "thurston howell romney" referring to the millionaire on "gilligan's island." just to remind you, here is the guy. >> the whole thing is so darn democratic. >> you understand the principle. you're a man of ethics. >> you sure know how to cut a man, don't you? all right. i officially place myself under hut arrest. >> thurston, you're a convict. oh! >> lovey, i have been framed. i'll appeal. i'll take it to the supreme court. i'll go even higher. the rules committee of the newport country club.
>> thurston howell, i forgot him, but he's a caricature, but the words could have been spoken by him at that boca raton fund-raiser. 50k to get in the door and everybody talking like him in effect, the poor and the democracy being some sort of degrading experience to have to go through. >> you know, it sounded like, you know, mitt romney was saying, my goodness, half the public are parasites trying to live off us, and the only way we can get into power is to convince 5% of those independents to side with us and protect us from the masses, and then that's what this is all about. it was really -- it was very striking in how he's defining this campaign as a clash between the free loaders and those of us in this room who have strived on our own and risen on the basis of our own merit. elsewhere in the tape he angrily says i didn't inherit nothing. i made everything. >> give me a break. >> he has this view once again that he built that, he built it all by himself and there are people out there trying to take
what he built. >> let's take a look at senate democrat of connecticut. you know when people start to leave the ship things are in trouble. here is linda mcmahon who wants to win in connecticut knowing her candidate for president, mitt romney, is unlikely to win in connecticut but she wants to separate herself from his comments. quote, i disagree with governor romney's insinuation that 47% of americans believe they are victims who must depend on the government for their care. i know that the vast majority of those who rely on government are not in that situation because they want to be. scott brown today also distanced himself from romney. quote, the -- well, he e-mailed this out to "the hill" magazine. that's not the way i view the world. as someone who grew up in tough circumstances, i know being on public assistance is not a spot that anyone wants to be in. there you have it. you know what's going on here. people want to win these elections and could well win like linda mcmahon and certainly scott brown, the incumbent senator. they don't want to be on the ship, the good ship lollipop of mitt romney.
>> this is the question i have been asking this question since last week with his response to libya. the republican establishment is watching this race very closely. elected officials, the consultant class, financial people. they're looking at it and they want to know, is this guy in a downward spiral? the polls are still close. mitt romney can still win this race, but if you remember back in 1996, chris, there came a point, and it was a long way before election day when the republican party said we're done with bob dole. he's not going to win this race, we got to take care of ourselves. it was -- >> we're not there yet. >> no, we're not there yet. we're not there yet, but the fact of what's happened over the course -- this is why all of this is in context. it's two horrific weeks and it raises the stakes for romney in the debates because if he does not win decisively in the first debate, we could be at that point. >> one last pander in this to the rich and the people down there with right wing views. david, you have a piece of tape. let's talk about another piece of tape. this is part of the romney speech down there to those wealthy people. it's about palestinians and it's
a knock on the palestinians. no big politics there, but he seems to suggest there's no chance of a two-state solution which has been the policy of both our parties for years now. let's watch. >> these are problems and they are very hard to solve, and i don't think the palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of israel and these thorny issues and i say there's just no way. what you do is you say you move things along the best way you can, you hope for some degree of stability but you recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem. we live with that in china and taiwan. all right. we have a potentially volatile situation but we sort of live with it, and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately somehow something will happen to resolve it. we don't go to war to try and resolve it imminently. on the other hand, i got a call from a former secretary of state, i won't mention which one it was, but this individual said to me, you know, i think there's
a prospect for a settlement between the palestinians and the israelis after the palestinian elections. i said, really? and, you know, his answer was, yes, i think there's some prospect, and i didn't delve into it. >> you know, i don't know, what did you think of that tape? >> i think there were three things that clip shows us. first, romney has said publicly that he believes in a two-state solution. i guess that's not true. really strikes me in watching the whole tape that he doesn't believe a two-state solution is possible so he's proposing a radical departure from the u.s. administration policy since the clinton years and through the bush and obama years. two, you know, do we want to have that change in policy? he believes that there's not really an active way of pursuing peace. he just wants to kick the ball down the field.
i mean, i don't know if that's the right analogy. >> i'm not knocking bibi, but that is his policy right now. he seems to say don't even get close to a deal. they're not ready for a deal and we're not ready. >> he takes the palestinians and he lumps them into one mindset. all palestinians don't want peace, they want to destroy israel. that's certainly not the case. it shows he doesn't have a good grasp of the reality on the ground, and he wants to have a radical departure from policy without admitting that in public. >> i think he said before that the palestinians are part of 47% in his mind anyway. >> at the very end he says a former secretary of state called him and said a deal might be possible after the election. he says i didn't delve into it. why not? >> no curiosity. >> thank you. what an exciting time in politics. coming up, much more on the romney tape. who are those 47% who mitt romney says will never be convinced to take personal responsibility for their lives? a lot of romney voters may be very surprised to learn he's talking about them. also, romney's been trying to turn president obama into some kind of cartoon version of jimmy carter. well, guess who helped leak that romney video to our friend david corn?
jimmy carter iv, the president's grandson. he'll be with us. plus some desperate republicans are trying to equate the romney tape with obama's guns and religion mark four years ago. but there's a huge difference. and the difference is, barack obama wanted their vote. let me finish with the rare look at mitt romney we heard on that tape. it's the mitt romney who actually said what he thinks, and this is "hardball," the place for politics. yeah. then how'd i get this... [ voice of dennis ] ...safe driving bonus check? every six months without an accident, allstate sends a check. ok. [ voice of dennis ] silence. are you in good hands? so it can feel like you're using nothing at all. but neosporin® eczema essentials™ is different. its multi-action formula restores visibly healthier skin in 3 days. neosporin® eczema essentials™. and those well grounded. for what's around this corner...
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welcome back to "hardball"? who are the 47% that mitt romney says would, never take responsibility. david brooks asked the same question and wonders, is it the iraq war veteran who goes to the va, veterans administration? is it the student getting a loan to go to college? is it the retiree on social security or medicare? tease a in 201146.4% of households paid no federal income tax so romney is correct there. let's zer o in on what that grop is. what about the people who paid neither federal income tax or federal tax, that smaller group, 10% are elderly and 7% are
nonelderly, earning under 27,000 a year. when romney says 47% are free-leaders, he's wrong. retirees and white working close voters, fit the romney voter profile. ezra cline is a policy analyst for msnbc. joe klein. just to break this out and to show that of the people who don't pay federal income tax, two-thirds do pay payroll tax and two-thirds of the other one-third are basically retirees who are benefiting from having worked their whole lives, paid taxes their whole lives and are in retirement. what's wrong with that? isn't that the american compact itself? >> not only is there nothing particularly wrong with, it but the romney's policy shows he doesn't think there's anything wrong with it either. he says he won't raise taxes on anybody making less than $200,000. there are actually some tax increases hidden in there for some people making very little because the stimulus tax breaks retire.
he says he won't touch any medicare or social security benefits for the current generation of retirees. so he's saying essentially he wants to keep this status quo exactly as it is. one other thing on this, this trick that has been played in the tax conversation where we keep saying federal income taxes, federal income taxes are the part of the tax code that is progressive. they're the part of the tax code that tends to focus in on the richer, on richer americans. payroll taxes are also federal taxes -- >> regresses ive. >> and they're more regresses ive. people don't pay them above $100,000. if you pay -- >> give me an xampbl example of the unfairness of that. like if you pay a payroll tax because you're making like $20,000 a year or $25,000 a year but not paying income tax, you're paying 15.3%. what's romney paying? >> he's paying 13.9%. exactly. in you're somebody who makes $85,000 your paying payroll taxes on all of that. you're paying a higher tax rate than mitt romney easily. it's a way of making the tax code look like the rich are paying all of it in order to justify further tax cuts for the rich. that is the policy trick being played.
>> thurston howell talked like the elite talking to other elite. will that sell with archie bunker, with a guy killing himself with two jobs to get the income? is he going to like that talk that everybody not making a lot of money is a bum? >> one of the biggest problems romney has is he's only paying 14%. when you talk to working people out in the country they're amazed. they're paying a lot more than that. and as we just -- as ezra demonstrated, by the way, we're not related. >> a lot of kleins out there. here he is dumping on the people who pay more than he does. >> absolutely. this guy is getting one of the biggest tax boondoggle breaks in the american tax code, which is that his -- you know, his income is taxed at the capital gains rate rather than at the earned income rate. and so who are all these fat cats he's talking to? they are people making money off of oil subsidies, cotton subsidies, sugar subsidies, all these other goodies in the tax code for rich people.
>> ezra, i know you're not a political person, but i'm going to ask you a question. doesn't it seem odd to you that this guy is down there giving an exposition on tax structure and who is paying and who is not and won't release his own returns? isn't that odd? >> i do think it's odd. i think it's even odder that he's somebody who won't release the details of his tax policy plan. it's almost one thing to say, i'm not going to tell you what i paid in the past. it's a whole other thing to go to america and say make me president but i'm not going to tell you what you're going to pay in the future. that to me is a great -- >> i think there's a theme to this campaign. it's a combination of what he says in back rooms for rich people to give him money, and what he puts in the air. let's look at this discredited romney welfare ad and how it fits into what he said at boca raton. it's evidence of romney's strategy described at the fund-raiser very much like only this is the way they put it on the tube. let's listen to the ad. >> in 1996 president clinton and a bipartisan congress helped end welfare as we know it, by requiring work for welfare, but on july 12th, president obama quietly announced a plan to gut
welfare reform by dropping work requirements. under obama's plan you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. they just send you your welfare check, and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare. mitt romney will restore the work requirement because it works. >> well, that ad is simply dishonest. work requirements were not eliminated. when the false welfare ads made news, "usa today" reported last month, quote, romney defends the welfare ads as accurate accusing obama of offering state waivers as a political calculation designed to, quote, shore up his base for the election. so not only the rich people, the people who want breakfast in bed and don't work. there he runs an ad saying obama is out there giving them welfare without work, checks without work, and also he's doing it to get his voters out. he can't be more base than that. >> no. what you have here is a really demented campaign. they're running against an imaginary version of barack obama, this -- >> socialist.
>> -- radical, muslim socialist. now they've invented this imaginary electorate of 47% of whom are moochers. i mean, this does not stand the test of reality, but it does stand the test of fox news and rush limbaugh, their version of reality, which isn't truthful. >> ezra, before you came along, you're about the best of the business in analyzing numbers right now that we argue about, because you do numberize them, numerrize them, it used to be, you'd ask people how much money is this government wasting in foreign aid. everybody would say about 30% of the gdp. how much are we spending on welfare? about 50%. finally because you're out there, we're cutting through that. so guys like romney can't go, even before the rich guys and lie to them or push untruths at them because there are actual numbers, right? >> we try. joe would probably know the story better than i do. these tax breaks that are taking people's liability away, the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, this is part of the way we got away from
welfare and towards workfare. these are work incentivizing changes to the tax code. one thing clinton and the republicans did in the '90s was move away from spending money on welfare, move towards spending on work. mitt romney comes along and says the effect of that is bad and it's made us moochers. it's really just the opposite. these are work incentivizing tax cuts. >> those were the best liberal ideas of that period. thank you so much. up next, a video of romney was unearthed by james carter iv, grandson of former president jimmy carter, who says he doesn't like romney and republicans knocking his grandpa. i can understand that. he's going to join us to talk about how he unearthed this little sugar plum about mitt's deepest thoughts. this is "hardball," the place for politics.
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if you think something's wrong... see your doctor. ask about gynecologic cancer. and get the inside knowledge. this midden camera video of mitt romney telling wealthy donors what he really thinks about obama supporters has shaken up the campaign and it might have remained in obscurity had his self-described opposition researcher from georgia not brought it to light. how fitting that that researcher
in georgia, that man in question, is the grandson of democratic stalwart and former president jimmy carter, a frequent target of mitt romney's attacks. with mow now is james carter iv. thank you for coming on. it's an honor to have on such a good researcher and good reporter. first of all, is your grandfather watching right now? >> i hope so. >> good. nice to see you, mr. president. thank you for letting me be one of your people. anyway, let's go to this thing. how did you get this video roughly? how did you come up with it? >> well, roughly, i found a piece of the longer video during a regular -- like a routine search on youtube that i do. and tracked it down to its source and talked them into giving it up. >> the people who study these use of cell phones and other technologies say it looks like it was mounted on something off to the side of the stage there. you see the angle from the left looking at the speaker, mitt
romney. do you have any idea how it was put there without detection? >> i don't, no. >> did the person who gave it to you tell you why they gave it to you, why they put it out? >> well, they thought that some of the things that romney was saying in the video needed to be heard by a wider audience. >> is it fair to assume that the person who gave you this tape is not one of the $50,000 contributors? >> i think it's probably fair to assume that. >> because i was thinking it might be somebody who is a caterer because why else are in the room, other than working there or paying to be there. that's a reasonable assumption but you don't have to go any further on that. let me ask you about your feelings about this and i think most journalism is driven by some drive, it can be ambition, it can be the truth, it can be an attitude about some of the people you cover. what was your attitude about getting this tape into the hands of david corn, who was a liberal writer and you figured he would get it out? >> i'm a partisan democrat and
my goal is to get democrats elected. not just at the presidential level but at -- to all offices. >> what do you think of mitt romney? >> i don't know mitt romney. i think that's part of the problem. >> do you resent the fact he's been dumping on your grandpa? >> that is not something that i think favorably of him for, definitely. >> i can understand that. james, thank you for coming on the show tonight. i know you're not used to this. it's great to have you on. it is a moment in the sun for you which you richly deserve. up next a brand new nbc/wall street journal poll and plenty for the obama campaign to be happy about. you're watching "hardball." you know why i sell tools? tools are uncomplicated. nothing complicated about a pair of 10 inch hose clamp pliers. you know what's complicated? shipping. shipping's complicated. not really. with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service shipping's easy. if it fits, it ships anywhere in
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over. union delegates vote the to suspend the seven day strike. classes are expected to resume tomorrow. american airlines is warning thousands of employees that layoffs are on the way. the company plans to cut more than 4,000 jobs as it restructures in bankruptcy. new projections about obesity in america. one group says half of people in 39 states will be obese by 2030. back to "hardball." brand new numbers from our nbc/wall street journal. they show good news for president obama and his campaign. for the first time we're releasing results for likely voters. those favor obama and biden over romney and paul ryan by five points. you can see the trend among registered voters, currently a
six-point spread. last month obama wasbeat iing romney in this category. when asking who is better prepared to lead the country in four years, obama leads romney, 47 to 36. who would look out for the middle points? obama stands at 53 to lowly 34%. joining me is chuck todd and chris, msnbc political analyst. i guess my first question to chuck, and also to chris later, is how do we know who's going to vote? who's likely? >> i mean, i can tell you how we measure likely voters. that is simply we asked them a series of questions, a couple thing. number one, how interested are you in the election on a scale of one to ten. our likely voter model we include six through ten. we ask them, did you vote in 2008? did you vote in 2010? folks that voted in at least one of the two and arrived at a six through ten, that's how we
decided who was a likely voter, chris. >> chris, it looks to me, looking at the number, the coincidence of the registered voters who are all the voters who could vote and likely voters is about exactly the same, about a five-point spread which tells me there must be an assumption by pollsters that obama voters are as likely to vote as romney voters. >> actually this is good news if you're a fan of president obama, because what we've seen in past polling, although the data in the last week or so has been different and consistent with nbc/wall street journal poll, but what we've seen before that registered voters, obama with a five or six point lead. likely voters, tied. meaning romney weren't more likely to turn out than obama voters. at least in t"the wall street journal" poll,en the case. good new news for president obama. >> who's better prepared to lead for the next four years? i thought this election after all the debates will come down to that question, chuck todd. who's better for the next four years.
you can quibble about the past, the bad economy, but the future. 11-point spread for the president but yet he's much closer on the match-up. why would somebody vote for someone they didn't think was the best country to lead the country for the next four years? >> because they don't agree with that person. >> i see. >> this poll is being taken after two major intervening events, arguably three major intervening events. one was the republican convention, two was the democratic convention, third was the jobs report. we can add a fourth one, the cries in the middle east. you have both conventions, both candidates with the largest audiences they've had all year making their case. and this is the gap in this number. if you're mitt romney, then there's other evidence in our poll to show this, your convention didn't do what you needed it to do for your status in this campaign. but if you look at barack obama, and all of the improvements that were made in places like right
track/wrong track, numbers like this, you clearly did the things you needed to do at your convention. >> to me, it's the signature question on the nbc poll and wall street journal poll. it asks people about their mood, mood among voters is trending toward president obama on key fronts. 55% say the nation is still headed in the wrong direction, 39% say it's the right track, which is the highest right track number since september '09. as for the president's job approval, he's back at 50% approval where he had been since march of this year. so, this question of right track, you mentioned it first, chuck, this to me, 39% doesn't sound so great as a number but relatively to the past something this show people are warming to him or what, to the way things are going? >> i'll tell you the movement we saw. it was among what i would call wayward democrats and independents, that's the movement we saw on the right track. it's been sitting in low 30s. we've been that way for about two straight years. there was a little bit of a
boomlett for the president in his first year in office and settled in this low 30 area. this pushed up. you have to look at it. was it the jobs report that was an awful, no good jobs report? no. you would assume if that's what the respondents were digesting they would have said the nation is more on the wrong track. democratic convention, and i think it's the bill clinton bounce. bill clinton made the case, hey, his job was to do what? make the argument the country is on the right track. at least as far as democrats were watching that speech and that convention, and it looks like some independents, they made the case. >> you're so smart, chuck. i didn't think of it that way. let's check in with chris. the idea what they needed was affirmation, they needed confirmation, the democrat who was wavering, independent whovs wavering and they heard bill clinton analyze the economy, how it got where it got, where we're headed gave people an objective survey of economic confidence, it seemed to lift them in some way.
we're not stuck. it's getting better. >> yeah, look, what he did, chris, is something president obama has struggled to do which is to say, look, he went beyond just saying, i inherited a mess and now it's a little better but it's not great. he said, let's go back and look. here are raw numbers. here's the data from when i was the president. here's the data from when george bush was president. here's the data from when president obama was president. the most effective line, no president could have gotten, myself included, could have gotten us out of economic straits any faster than barack obama is doing. chuck is absolutely right about bill clinton making the case and kind of making democrats, who are wavering believe. the thing to remember, bill clinton, in the nbc/wall street journal poll, 39% very positive about bill clinton. incredibly high numbers. 59% positive about him in general. so, it wasn't just the message. it was the fact that bill clinton has rehabbed himself amazingly since the 2008 campaign to be a remarkable
messenger that people are ready to believe and who they think is -- though he's a democrat, a little bit of a -- >> a validater. >> he's not mitt romney or barack obama. he's an elder statesman gray beard who gets more credibility because of it. >> i love you calling someone younger than me a gray beertd. but i aagree with you. i looked at the numbers on hispanic voters who are a key factor in this election. they love as a group bill clinton. with respect to the economy, back to the hard case here, 47% of voters approve of president obama's handling of the economy compared to 51% who did not. it's a three-point increase from last month. that's what this election is about, movement. head too next year, 42% believe the economy will improve over the next 12 months, a six-point jump from last month. matching up obama and romney on the economy, the two candidates are now tied at 43% each.
in july romney had a six-point edge. he always thought he had one. for most of the year romney has based his entire campaign strategy that americans think of him as mr. fix it. i'm amazed at this because the economy is not swimming out there. it's not great. the market's up, some indicators are up. unemployment is still in that 8% range, plus range, and people are levering the job market. it must be driving romney crazy, chuck. >> it is. and it's campaign messaging. it's the democratic convention and it's the campaign messaging and obama messaging is working. there is not a lot of good news in here for mitt romney but there is one silver lining in here that i think we should be aware of and people at home and the obama campaign ought to be aware of. remember i told you about how we figure out who likely voter is and who we include and all that? we have this scale of one to ten, interest in the election.
among those that simply say nine or ten on interest in the election, the most interested voters, republicans have a ten-point advantage over democrats. >> and they're negative voters. >> four years ago at this time, it was dead even between the two parties. >> just to get to the internals, to unpack that, are they negative voters who just don't like obama? a lot don't like him. >> no, look, this is what has animated the republican base for a lng time, which is being anti-obama. it is what animates the base. but the point is, and that's where, you know, romney's having these bad days in a row, he can't afford to have this because he can't dampen that enthusiasm. i think that's why you see the things he's trying to doed to, throw up stuff on drudge because he's trying to make sure he doesn't dampen enthusiasm. that's worth a couple of points. if republicans will walk on broken glass to get to the polls, on behalf of mitt romney, it's worth a point or two. >> it won't be because they like him. thank you, chuck todd. thank you, chris.
up next, back to the romney tape and why it's very different and potentially much more damaging than barack obama's -- remember that guns and religion comment he made in san francisco in '08. [ male announcer ] what if you had thermal night-vision goggles, like in a special ops mission? you'd spot movement, gather intelligence with minimal collateral damage. but rather than neutralizing enemies in their sleep, you'd be targeting stocks to trade. well, that's what trade architect's heat maps do. they make you a trading assassin. trade architect.
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welcome back to "hardball." romney defenders are saying the candidates caught on tape comments are similar to president obama's caught on tape comments back when he was a candidate and he talked about people clinging to their guns and religion back in 2008. but as john heilemann pointed out earlier in this show, there's a big difference. let's listen to what then-candidate obama said to supporters in 2008. >> you go into some of these small towns in pennsylvania. and i like a lot of small towns
in the midwest. the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. and they fell through the clinton administration and the bush administration. and each successive administration has said that somehow these are going to regenerate and they have not. it's so it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them. >> but it was what obama says next that's often let out of the tapes. he encourages the supporters to reach out and win them over. let's listen. >> i think what you'll find is that people of every background, there are going to be a mix of people, you can go into the toughest neighborhood, working class lunch pail folks, you'll
find obama enthusiasts, and you go into places where you think i'd be very strong and people will just be skeptical. the important thing is that you show up and you're doing what you're doing. >> joining me is jonathan chait and "the huffington post's" sam stein. what the differences are and the similarities in the tapes. >> what obama was trying to say was that, yes, there's a constituency that's opposed to him and he expressed it in a kind of condescending way that people don't like and understandably don't like, but it was fundamentally an express of social solidarity. he was saying my policies will benefit these people. we can explain it and we need to make the case, and if we make the case, i think we can get some of them to come our way. romney's was essentially saying my policies are not going to benefit those people, so they're never going to vote for us no matter what which is a kind of a disturbing thing to say if you want to be president. >> your thoughts on what's
similar and dissimilar? >> one is trying to reap out and one is assuming they won't be for your cause. another famous comment, he started off saying, why are these people voting for you? it's easy to say they don't want to vote for the black man. they won't vote for me because i'm black. he went on to try to explain. i think we got the distinction between romney and him. it could have been easy for him to say they are not voting for me because of racism. and he tried to explain it out and ended in a heap load of trouble. >> it was a well-off neighborhood in san francisco to try to explain the different culture. the problem with the obama statement is people don't cling to religion more than -- religion is what you cling to. you have to believe, because you need it. and you believe in it. it's your belief. it isn't something you hang onto
just for, you know, safety's sake in bad times. i think he was saying, cling to. and the gun thing, people enjoy hunting deer in pennsylvania as much as he enjoys shooting hoops or playing golf. i mean, that's just a putdown, i thought. jonathan, thoughts now. >> no, i think that's correct, although i think in the context of what he was saying is he was clinging to those things as voting issues, not as lifestyle habits. they cling to the practice of voting for guns and religion. >> yeah. >> yeah, i don't think he was saying they would give up their guns or religion if they had economic prosperity, but it was very murky. he was speaking off the cuff. >> by the way, president obama just made his first comment on the romney tape itself. the president made an appearance on tonight's "late show with david letterman." he said, there aren't a lot of people out there who think they are victims. coming back rather calmly. he's not looking to exploit this but my bet is the campaign will. perhaps for the next two months.
>> romney has done damage to himself and obama doesn't need to push him any further. he can try to explain what he was trying to say. you're right, the campaign will do it subtly. for obama it seems like a fairly easy play. let romney do all the explaining and stay away from it. >> your thoughts, jonathan, dangle slowly, slowly in the wind, as someone said in watergate? >> i don't think this is going to be a big political hit on romney, even people who don't pay income taxes realize they pay taxes. when people say republicans they mean taxes, it works. >> there we disagree. i believe this is the script behind the scenes script, this is the explanation, if you will, of what he's done in his ad campaign and going after. blaming welfare is getting rid of worm requirement was for the poor out there, as he pointed out, an attempt to work the base. an exposition of that before his rich friends, it's all about obama trying to pay off his poor supporters with more welfare.
your thoughts on that? come back at me. >> look, the welfare attack is a positive attack for romney. it shouldn't help him. it should hurt him a lot. it is actually going to either not hurt or possibly help him a little bit. if he can frame it as being the middle class against these poor lazy people -- >> 47%? >> -- that's an effective attack. >> jonathan's right -- >> 47% of the people are lazy bums? >> when we return a rare look at mitt romney in that tape. you're watching "hardball," the place for politics. n be your sm. with colgate optic white toothpaste. it whitens over 2 shades more than a leading whitening toothpaste. so with colgate optic white, the only accessory you need to look fabulous is your smile. colgate optic white. whiter teeth in 1 week. now try new colgate optic white mouthwash. for a whiter smile even faster, use the whole whitening line.
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let me finish with this. an intriguing defense of what mitt romney said to those wealthy folk in boca raton. he wasn't saying what he believed but what he believed that crowd down there wanted to hear him say. well, if that's the best defense romney can come up with or have put up for him of the most elitist putdown of the american people in history, the guy's really got problems because, because the one all-consuming definition of mitt romney is his readiness to buckle to every element on american right. he knocks the two state solution in the middle east. he knocks any compromise on spending and taxes. he wants to ban abortion rights and same-sex marriage and legalize the largest gun